Yes, John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) is still a total asshole.
Last week, we here at Crossfade attempted to conduct a phone interview with the Public Image LTD frontman and former Sex Pistol. But unfortunately, Johnny seemed to be stuck in one of his legendarily shitty moods.
After only a couple of minutes and three questions about PiL, the Pistols, punk in the 21st Century, and imprisoned Russian band Pussy Riot, he suddenly started farting with anger, dropped a pissy turd, and hung up.
Obviously, though, our crappy little bickering match with the 56-year-old English sphincter cannot compare to the fecal free-for-alls of yore. Thus, we present Johnny Rotten's top ten gaping A-hole moments. Enjoy.
Crapping in Class
As a child, John Joseph Lydon was a quiet little asshole. He was "very shy" and "nervous as hell." He was too terrified to speak. He rarely made a peep. Even when crapping in class. As recounted on page 16 of his 1993 autobiography, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, lil' Johnny loathed school. "I was frightened of it and didn't like it at all," Lydon recalls. "I had several embarrassing incidents ... I would shit my pants and be too scared to ask the teacher to leave the class. I'd sit there in a pants load of poo all day long."
Unloading at Tea Time
Grown up, still full of shite, but now fronting the Sex Pistols, Johnny joined his bandmates and a bunch of other punks like Siouxsie Sioux for some face-time on popular British talk show Today, hosted by a drunk guy named Bill Grundy. Broadcast during the early evening of December 1, 1976, this programming gimmick rapidly degenerated into an all-out turd fight after Grundy made a lame, lecherous pass at Siouxsie. As Johnny and the rest flung figurative feces at Grundy, Pistol guitarist Steve Jones spewed filth like "dirty bastard" and "fucking rotter." The Brit TV audience was outraged. The tabloids went mad. And the ensuing scandal killed Grundy's career. For the next 20 years, no matter how hard he scrubbed, the TV man could never wash the smell of the Sex Pistols' stink off his face. He died in 1993.
Excrement for Elizabeth II
Right in the middle of her Silver Jubilee, Rotten and the Pistols plopped a three-minute-and-20-second poop in Queen Liz's lap. Obviously, we're not talking about an actual bowel movement. Just seminal punk tune, "God Save the Queen," a quasi-parody of the United Kingdom's national anthem of the same name. Banned by the BBC and despised by monarchists, the song called the Royal Family a "fascist regime" and put Her Majesty in the same league as Hitler and Mussolini. It was the musical equivalent of a flaming 400-pound bag of manure on Buckingham Palace's doorstep.
The Pistols' Last Real Crap
Even though Johnny and the Sex Pistols (with original bassist Glen Matlock instead of his infamous replacement, the accused murderer and long-dead OD case Sid Vicious) would eventually reunite for several shitty reunion roadshows through the '90s and 2000s (starting with 1996's Filthy Lucre tour), their January 14, 1978 performance at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco could be considered the Pistols' last real crap. That night, Johnny famously asked the crowd: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Yeah, pretty much every time the Sex Pistols brand laxative that we bought on eBay fails to inspire a firm fecal discharge.
Dumping on Dick
Surprisingly, John Lydon has recently said some not-so-shitty things about late TV legend and self-described corporate "whore" Dick Clark. In a June interview with Rolling Stone, the pooping punk wistfully recalled: "Poor old sod. I remember him quite well. I remember the wigs. He didn't have to let [Public Image LTD] on [American Bandstand] and he didn't have to be so kind to us and give us that opportunity ... It showed a great sense of rebellion in him." Nevertheless, Johnny totally dumped on Dick during an AB appearance in 1980. Just moments before introducing PiL as "something interesting and special," Clark accosted Lydon's tour manager Larry White backstage and asked, "What can I expect from this asshole?" The answer: Some half-assed lip-syching, a Rotten shit-eating grin, and a steaming pile of self-satisfied dookie in the darkest corner of the studio.
Second Circuit Court of Shit
Fast-forward 17 years and the pooping punk was still happily excreting on command for a television audience. So, desperate to settle a beef with his former drummer (or maybe just jonesing for some midday American TV exposure), Johnny Rotten appeared before Judge Judy in 1997. He won the case. But whatever the final ruling, this shitty incident is most notable for bringing together Judith Sheindlin, the author of a book titled Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining, and John Lydon, a guy who'll crap on your chest and tells you it's lunch.
Poo-Poo-ing the Hall
On February 24, 2006, Johnny and the Sex Pistols were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, though, they boycotted their own ceremony. Why? Well, because (despite spending the last few decades starring in reality TV shows and sporadically reuniting to fill their coffers with that filthy lucre), Rotten and the rest apparently remain "real Sex Pistols" so deeply dedicated to anarchy that they absolutely refuse to fraternize with "music industry people." As the band's official statement flatulently explained: "Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain." Perhaps ... But wouldn't it still have been glorious fun to watch Johnny leave wet Rotten skidmarks all over the red carpet?
Bullshit for Breakfast
Sometime in the '70s, Johnny was given that infamous punk nickname, Rotten, because his teeth were crooked, decayed, and crap-encrusted. As a young punk, this was hilarious and irreverent. But apparently, a lifetime of eating big bowlfuls of your own bullshit for breakfast leads to a lot more than breath like a borstal toilet. Stuff like diabetes, dementia, and heart disease. That's why Lydon spent $22,000 in 2008 to fix his shitty smile.
Buttful of Butter
Four years after his last shameless attention stunt (i.e. a stint on the British edition of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!), Lydon was looking to drag his music career out of the shitter. But PiL was without a record label or any other form of financial support. So Lydon hatched a crappy plan: Get a gig shilling Country Life dairy products on telly, smuggle a big buttful of British butter money back to PiL HQ, and funnel all that frothy lucre into band operations. And holy sweet, creamy shit! It worked! As Johnny would surely say, "I think it tastes the best!"
Eau de Toilet
If peddling Country Life is a sell-out, what do you call Johnny and the Sex Pistols selling their own perfume? According to the press release, it reeks of "pure energy, pared down and pumped up by leather, shot through with heliotrope and brought back down to earth by a raunchy patchouli." In other words, exactly like a soupy Rotten poop that's been brewing for 37 years aboard a punk tour bus to "Nowhere."
Public Image LTD. Friday, October 5. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $30 plus fees via fla.vor.us. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.